inhale...exhale...relax your shoulders...repeat as often as needed

Friday, December 31, 2010

HOLIDAY MAGIC...gratitude

As 2010 dwindles to a close, I want to thank you all, dear blog readers. 

Thank you for your sweet and thoughtful comments. Thank you for your encouragement and your feedback. I have loved meeting a few of you in person this year and sharing snail mail and e-mails with some of you, too. Your generosity of spirit warms my heart.

And I want to thank the many of you who write blogs. I love following some of you as a daily habit. I love stumbling newly upon some of you, and being delighted by what I find. 

I read about sewing, crafting, knitting, parenting, books, spirituality, sustainability, farming and gardening. I love seeing your photos! Reading about your struggles and stumbles and your discoveries and triumphs convince me that we are, in fact, all connected in very real ways.

I am inspired by each and every one of you and I thank you for sharing your lives with me.

Best wishes to all of you for a safe and wonder-filled new year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

HOLIDAY MAGIC...hunkered in

gretta and lindsey on the way back up the hill...
after a toboggan run through the meadow.

Our "bit of earth" has been a nest of coziness and rest, with some folks recovering from colds and overall  weariness. No alarm clocks, no appointments and no schedule. So we've soaked up everything the season has to offer...
  • baking, baking and more baking in our funky little kitchen, and more baking.
  • enjoying thoughtful, handmade gifts.
  • snow, wind, more snow and flurries...from the window, and outside to play.
  • a long, snowy drive to spend an afternoon with dear friends, and a long, snowy drive home.
  • catching up with family, in person and on the phone (missed you stew and dawn).
  • napping, and lots of it.
  • a girls' trip to king arthur flour in norwich. wicked fun.
  • reading.
  • watching movies, old favorites and some new ones. ("flipped" is a cute one).
  • (a nice break from the internet)
What have all of you been up to?

Monday, December 20, 2010


as we wait for the deepest and longest night of the year 
i light a candle for you, dear readers,
and send along the most magical part of the holidays,

the miracle of light.

the oil that lasted,
the star of bethlehem,
the return of the sun,
the light within,
the illumination of hope and love.

******** *       ******** * * **       ****  * ***** ***

(i am taking a break from sew and sow life for a bit.
i'll be back next week, with more holiday magic.)
nan, you won the pillow!
please send me your snail mail address
 (my email address is on my sidebar)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

HOLIDAY MAGIC...wonder (and a reminder about the giveaway)

The world will never starve for wonders;
but only for the want of wonder.
-Gilbert K. Chesterton

To be surprised, to wonder, is to begin
to understand.
-Jose Ortega y Gasset

In the midst of this holiday season,
be sure to take a moment or two
to wonder, to be amazed, to be open to the magic
to be found in everyday life...
on a walk in the woods,
while standing in line at the store,
while watching dogs play in the snow...
just notice...

there is magic and wonder all around.
*   ****    *   ***     ** *         * * ****************
be sure to leave a comment over here
if you'd like a chance to have a wee pillow to rest on.
i've extended the deadline to noon tomorrow.
good luck!

Saturday, December 18, 2010


it was a year ago today that the world lost
erin potts,
a brave and remarkable young woman.

to read about our connection to erin read this,
and to read her mom's inspiring blog
click here.

let us be reminded by erin's short and brilliant life 
that all we really have is today,
at this very moment.

and every day is a precious new chance to
love and be loved. 

shower the people you love with love,
show them the way that you feel...
-james taylor

Friday, December 17, 2010


The stillness and the peace of now
enfold you in perfect gentleness.
-A Course in Miracles

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

The key to peace lies close to the earth.
-Paul Marshall

We shall find peace. We shall hear angels,
we shall see the sky
sparkling with diamonds.
-Anton Chekhov

Thursday, December 16, 2010

HOLIDAY and giveaway #4

a small pillow...
stitched from soft flannel and snowflakes appliques...
closed with a repurposed shirt.

Inspired by Anne Lamott's words
(which I LOVE)...

"Rest and laughter are the most spiritual
and subversive acts of all.
Laugh, rest, slow down."

Leave a comment or send an email
if you'd like a chance to have this pillow
for your own little rest.
(closes at midnight on Sunday,
winner announced Monday morning).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

HOLIDAY MAGIC...treasures

some of my holiday treasures are 
humble kitchen linens.
some are simple candle holders, 
waiting in the late afternoon light.
and some are precious pages in a book my mumsie
made for our young children in 1989.
each of our stockings, drawn in exact detail
(before gretta was born!)
including our kitties,
davey and chet.
lindsey, sleeping on her back, as usual,
with eyeglasses on the night stand.

stewart and hannah each have their own page.
when gretta arrived a few years later, my mumsie added
a page at the end that included her as well.

 do you unpack treasures during the holiday season?
a cherished menorah?
a nativity scene?
a papier mache sunburst for the solstice?

or do you create new treasures each year?

do tell!

Monday, December 13, 2010


batman and gretta made this beautiful wreath on friday
and hung it on the shed at our "bit of earth".
we cooked pots of chili, lentil soup and 
baked tree shaped sugar cookies, too.
on saturday, we hosted our fourth annual
"friends and family" day,
inviting folks to cut their own tree and take it home.
on sunday, we woke to snow in the air, and our driveway 
was full of good cheer and fun conversation while we hosted
our second annual fundraiser for the vermont land trust.
here's a picture of one of the biggest tree that left the property!
we thank everyone who came by and made a donation...
we had a 57% increase in donations this year!

this morning, gretta and i drove back to CT with a few more trees
in the back of the truck and did a few 

stealth deliveries!

(we call ourselves the balsam elves. 
we may be tall, but we're full of mischief!)

*   *   ***           **** *       *           *** *   ******** *        **** *  **         * *

The winner of the balsam sachet is Jamie U!
Please send me your snail mail address Jamie
(my email address is in the sidebar to the right).

Don't fret if you didn't win this time around...
there will be a few more giveaways soon!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

HOLIDAY MAGIC...scents and giveaway #3

Batman and I lived in Old San Juan, PR for four years when we were young parents. Stewart and Lindsey were both born on the island. Being a New Englander by birth, I had mixed feelings about living in the tropics, especially during the holidays. In early December, I used to load wee Stewart up in his stroller and wheel him along the cobble stoned streets down to the port, where the big container ships would dock. I would find a spot on a bench and sit in the blazing sunshine as the dock workers opened the doors to the containers of Christmas trees, cut weeks ago in some northern forest. I would close my eyes and inhale the scent of my beloved and far away New England. For just a few minutes, I would be transported by the most ancient of our senses to another place and time.

And now, almost thirty years later, we are the stewards of balsams of our very own. Life is mysterious, is it not? In celebration of memories, scents and holiday magic, I am offering this sachet, filled with balsam needles from our "bit of earth" as a giveaway. If you would like a chance to have this sachet, please leave a comment here, or send me an e-mail. Chances for the giveaway will close at noon on Monday and I will post the winner's name on Monday afternoon.

Another nostalgic holiday scent is my GrammieLowry's mulled apple cider:
2 quarts cider
1 teaspoon ground cloves
4 small sticks cinnamon
Bring cider to a boil, add the spices which have been tied in a cheesecloth bag. Boil for 3 minutes. Remove spice bag. Once the flavors have melded, I put this cider in a crock pot on low, and folks can enjoy it all day long.

Gingerbread baking in the oven, frying latkes and the scent of paper white narcissus remind me of the holidays too. How about you?

P.S. I will be taking a quick break from the blog-o-sphere, to tend to some holiday magic. I'll be back on Monday with more fun to share.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

HOLIDAY MAGIC...being greener

I've seen versions of this clever craft over at Bobbi's Art, Mousenotebook and at Tiny Happy. I can't resist this fun project. I've been using envelopes from the recycling bin, Netflix mailers are a great holiday red, and catalogs are full of festive images.
My Mumsie has been making gift tags from recycled holiday cards for years and years. They are so simple and pretty.
Isn't she a clever girl?
My friend Franny began giving us presents in 
reusable fabric bags back in the '90's.
We now have a collection of hers and some newer ones
 that come out every year.
I just whipped up the tree bag this morning.
Franny's fabric book cover  has held up nicely over the years.

Because we have so many bakers in our family, last year I saved 
King Arthur flour bags, shook them out, cut them open, gave them
a little wipe with a damp sponge and used them as wrapping paper!

This time of year, I am especially careful to consolidate errands, 
cutting down on mileage.

Do you have some tips for being greener at this time of year?
I need all the help I can get!
Leave a comment, OK?
This morning, Henry selected Vivien's name from 
a plate of possible winners
for the RED HORSE cd giveaway.
(send me your snail mail address, Vivien
and we'll pop it in the mail).

And today, I remember John Lennon,
and I still imagine a world that will live as one.
Won't you join us?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

HOLIDAY MAGIC...breathing

Breathing is an act of prayer.
-Frank Waters

Breathing in I calm my body and mind.
Breathing out I smile.
-Thich Nhat Hanh

These are two quotes I have posted here before,
and are worth repeating during this festive season.
Deep breathing supports the health of every part of our bodies.

No special equipment needed,
just attention to the moment.


Monday, December 6, 2010

HOLIDAY MAGIC...greenery

november 28th
Batman and Gretta scouted out the perfect trees
up at our "bit of earth" in Vermont.
(We've planted the seedlings in the foreground
over the past two summers. )
Quality inspection and height measurement.
Sawn down in a flash!
This is when those volleyball muscles really come in handy!
Our college/farmer girl,
with a nod to deer hunting season around her neck.
Three trees, loaded up and ready for their four hour journey
south, to a very special place.
december 4th
Installed in the Honor Room,
right outside of the (very ecumenical) chapel at Wooster School.
(Wooster's prayer includes one of my favorite phrases of all time,
Make us gentle, generous, truthful, kind and brave).

Mistletoe, wreaths, evergreens, holly and ivy...
do you have traditions that bring the outdoors into your holiday home?
*****    * *       *      **         *      ****** * *
Giveaway #2 is still open,
look here for details.

(Gentle reminder...if you came via a link on the post
"oh tannenbaum, oh tannenbaum"
this is an old post from 2010.
This giveaway was held last year.
Sorry for the confusion!)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

HOLIDAY and giveaway #2

eliza gilkyson, john gorka and lucy kaplansky,
three revered songwriters
have recently collaborated on a remarkable and beautiful album,
called RED HORSE.
gretta, batman and i were delighted to see them live on friday night.
their music is magical and nourishing.

i marvel at how music brings people together,
and inspires. it also creates an oasis in our busy lives.

any of you out there feeling busy?!?!

so, here's a copy of the RED HORSE cd,
available to one lucky reader.
same drill as last time...
leave a comment here or send me an email
(address in side bar here) .

this giveaway closes on tuesday night at midnight.
winner announced wednesday morning.
*   ******    * *** **********       ****
check out yesterday's post to see who gets the last giveaway.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


amaryllis bulb
the miracle of growth from a simple bulb 
has always fascinated me,
and has become a visual reminder of 
paper white narcissus
...especially in the longest and darkest days of the year.
 this christmas cactus,
(sprouted from a cutting from my
grandmother's plant)
just keeps growing and growing.
 these plants rest all year long,
getting ready to bloom on the windowsill
 in the thin, fleeting sunshine of december...
...and remind us that this cold, frozen world, is no match for
the power of life and love and hope.

                 *            ***        *            * *           *                     *     *                  *        
The winner of the PEACE tea towel is Suz. (Please send me your snail mail address via my email address on the sidebar here.) I loved reading your comments and e-mails. You are such a sweet, clever bunch of readers! I have lots more giveaways ready, so do not dismay if you didn't win today! 

Friday, December 3, 2010

HOLIDAY MAGIC...nourish!

This time of year is very food focused, with lots of special, rich and sugary dishes showing up at our tables. Often we have recipes that sit in the back of our recipe files all year long, but come out now to help us celebrate the season. Some remind us of relatives long gone, some are recipes shared by good friends and some may be new ones we've been waiting to try. Pull out those rolling pins, bunt cake pans and shopping lists! Now's the time!

In between those treats, though, this is also a good time of year to really nourish ourselves and the ones who gather around our tables. Simple, clean and healthy food can fuel us in the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle. My favorite centering lunch is a bowl of brown rice and steamed vegetables, served in a bowl, cradled in my palms. I love the feel of the steam swirling up from the bowl, the crunch of the just tender veggies and the clean feeling my guts carry into the afternoon.

As I looked at my sprouting potatoes this morning, and did a little online peeking for what to do with them, I learned something new. Did you know that latkes, one of the traditional Hannukah foods, are fried in oil to celebrate the Miracle of the Oil? To read about Mollie Katzen's quest for the healthiest frying oil, click here.

If you hang bird feeders at your house, and would like to nourish your feathery neighbors this month, check out this recipe for homemade suet.

And if you are able to share some nourishment with folks who are facing a lean holiday season, click here for a link to food pantries and soup kitchens and food banks across the nation.

Where do you find nourishment at this time of year?

                               *             *                        *  *        *              *               *

P.S. I am happy to report that Henry was freed from his cone yesterday, and with a long term course of meds, we expect him to be just fine. We thank you for your good thoughts.

P.P.S. It's not too late to throw your name in for HOLIDAY MAGIC giveaway #1!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

HOLIDAY MAGIC...intentions and giveaway #1

i have a few weeks of fun planned for you, dear readers.
if you are looking for a spot to take a deep breath, to center yourself
and celebrate the light and love of the holiday season,
you've come to the right place.
i'm calling this month of posts "holiday magic"
and i invite you to come along with me!
if you would like a chance to find this 49 cent tea towel from IKEA,
dressed up for the holidays (by moi),
nestled in your mail box,
simply leave your name in the comments section, or pop me an email.
this giveaway closes on saturday at noon,

check back often for more to come)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

december first

i posted this picture last year.
AIDS is still prowling the world,
along with many other diseases.

cherish each day.
shine on.
be a comfort.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

fabric and fiber

hmmm...what do we have here?
IKEA madness!
  • 4 yards of a cotton/linen blend, 17 1/2 inches wide, with both of the long edges already hemmed!
  • 2 1/2 yards of 54" wide dec weight white w/red plaid cotton.
  • 2 white dish towels with red edges, 49 cents each. 
Let the holiday sewing begin!

And, I forgot to tell you about the FABULOUS fiber art show Gretta and I checked out while in Vermont this past weekend. It's a collection of the BEST fiber artists in Vermont right now. Very different styles, but a very cohesive show, nicely curated. Showing at the T.W.Wood Gallery and Art Center in Montpelier, the show is cleverly called Good, Good, Good, Good Fibrations. 

Some of my faves, (Karen Henderson, Judith Reilly, and Carol MacDonald) have work hanging, and I discovered some new beauties as well. Cynthia Ross does lovely work in creamy canvass, Lauren Lacroix does gorgeous work with felted wool, and Karen Kamenetzky knocked my socks off with her fabulous color work. Elizabeth Billings works magic with pine needles, twigs, and fabric. Brian Goblik's work with twigs is stunning.

If you have a chance to see the show, DO IT! Otherwise, enjoy all the links!

Monday, November 29, 2010

GramElaine's macaroni and cheese

1 1/2 cups elbow pasta (multi grain pasta vs. white is an ongoing Reed family controversy)
2 Tablespoons flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 pound cheddar (vermont, of course)
2 Tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups milk
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 cup crushed Ritz crackers

  • Cook elbows, according to directions on box. Drain, place in buttered casserole.
  • Heat butter in double boiler. Add flour, salt and pepper and blend.
  • Add milk slowly until sauce thickens.
  • Cut cheese into cubes, add to sauce.
  • Stir constantly until cheese has melted.
  • Pour cheese sauce over elbows and top with crushed crackers.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.
Gretta and I were driving home from VT today, and I asked her what she wanted for supper. I told her she could have anything, and she wanted this "comfort food". Then, I was talking with Lindsey on the phone, and when she heard that we were having mac and cheese for supper, she asked me for the recipe.
So, I thought I'd share it here. It's from my Mumsie's recipe file and just like my dad, we always eat it with ketchup.

Friday, November 26, 2010

sent with love and respect

click the photo to enlarge for detail.
the blue fabric is indigo shibori dyed cotton,
done in a class with jane.
i used polyurethane to preserve the birch twigs from 
our "bit of earth".
and i'm still fascinated with frayed edges,
using this lovely green linen again.
the crows are fused and cut from a commercial cotton print.
the text, written in permanent ink came to me while riding 
the train last weekend.
machine quilted with rayon thread.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

at doug and ra's

cranberry glass
cranberry orange relish
a walk around the cranberry bogs
between dinner and pies
a few miles away from where the
pilgrims landed in plymouth.

so grateful some of us were able to
gather together.

hope your day was filled with gratitude and blessings.